Ibarra Celebrates One Year of Work
It has been one year since a team of 40/40s, one support couple and a pastor with his family stood in front of an empty building wondering how it would be filled. Their spiritual walks and journeys all united in front of an empty room with a sign above the door labeling the Nazarene church as “La Puerta Abierta” (The Open Door). The task of seeking out people to form disciples and eventually a church seemed daunting when staring at the empty room in a foreign city. All were passionate about the work God had put in front of them, but unsure of how it would or could unfold. They prayed fervently and sustained the faith that God would bless the community of Ibarra with disciples of Christ who would fill the empty seats before them. It was quickly realized that there is no one way or event to bring people to the feet of Jesus. Sebastian, or Sebas as his friends call him, is a high school student who now fills one of those empty seats in the Ibarra Church. Over a year ago, he would have considered himself an atheist, but his life has now drastically changed as he calls himself a disciple of Christ, training to become a leader within his church and community. During the summer, Love Extreme put on an event in Sebas’ neighborhood. Wanting to practice his English, Sebas began talking with the group of people from the United States. Almost a year later, Sebas sits in the front row of the Nazarene church in Ibarra with his sister and parents who are all now followers of Christ. Every Tuesday, his family hosts a house of prayer with two 40/40 missionaries, Jeremias and Samuel.
Sebas’ story is just one of many in the new church in Ibarra. Sometimes a short conversation on a bus, a break dance competition hosted by the local church, or an invite to the man passing by can make a difference in someone’s life or in the life of the church. This team may have set out for the city of Ibarra over a year ago, but God began preparing each of them long before then. On that first Sunday, the responsibility of starting relationships and forming disciples within a foreign community may have seemed daunting, but it has been proven possible.
On March 8, 2015, “La Iglesía Nazarena La Puerta Abierta” opened its doors to the 53rd Sunday church service and the one-year anniversary of Extreme Nazarene’s church plant in Ibarra, Ecuador. The young 40/40s oozed a sense of triumph as they introduced to the church their disciples who would be attending leadership classes. The new local leaders wore their embroidered shirts with pride as they ushered late comers to their seats, Pastor Joan affirmed a new year of conquest from the pulpit, and the congregation called out in worship as its members spilled out onto the sidewalk outside because every seat was filled. The church claimed four new leaders who had graduated after one year of training and introduced many more who would begin leadership training this year.
In many different ways and in many different places, God called out to these young 40/40s to leave their comfortable homes, take classes in leadership, church development, spiritual disciplines and foreign language in order to bring them to where they are now. God inspired Kurtis and Emily Strunk to sell all of their possessions, uproot their family and travel to a foreign country to do the impossible. The Lord set in Pastor Joan and Pastora Astrid’s hearts to serve Him through missions and discipleship. On March 8, the Nazarene church in Ibarra, Ecuador gleamed in pride and adoration for what the Lord was able to accomplish throughout their community in only a year’s time there. Imagine what He has in store for the years to come!
Krista is a graduate from NNU with a BSN and is the Medical Wellbeing Coordinator with Extreme Nazarene, and manages the health of all the missionaries on the field. She serves on the field in Quito, Ecuador alongside her husband, Justin, who works as Extreme's Software Programmer. Her three favorite things are Thai food, basketball and hiking!
You can check out more about Krista and Justin on their blog at: http://www.justin-krista.com